New Program Connects Military with Olympians

USMC Wounded Warrior with Emilia Wint 
by American300 Public Affairs 

Park City Utah - (1/20/14) - When Emilia Wint was named to the first ever U.S. Freeskiing Team it couldn’t have come at a better time.   Freeskiing was just added as the newest Winter Olympic event and the young 19 year old from Denver, Colorado, was one of our countries best in slopestyle skiing. 

Like all US Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) national team athletes, Emilia, who goes by  ‘Meels’, was pushing the envelope in training to prepare for the upcoming Sochi Olympics. Misfortune derailed her ambitions when she blew out her knee in training this past November and had to undergo surgery.   

Standing with crutches and watching her fellow national team members along with some new comers round out the inaugural Freeskiing Olympic Team’s ranks during final trials in Park City, Utah this past weekend was tough.  However, unlike previously injured USSA athletes, Meels was apart of a new and innovative style of programming.  

Enter the all new USSA Military Mentorship Program sponsored by PenFed and military mentors Colonel John Bates, a 3x Purple Heart United States Marine Corps veteran of 3 wars and Colonel Danny McKnight of the U.S. Army Rangers, the ground force commander during the battle of Mogadishu, made famous by the movie ‘Black Hawk Down’. Who together along with American300’s Robi Powers, also a Veteran were on hand for this past weekends competitions.

“Emilia, like all of these athletes is a world class individual, that also happens to be one of the best at what she does athletically,” said Bates, “When they push themselves to do these amazing gravity defying feats on snow, there are going to be times when they come up short and become injured-wounded. I know what it’s like to get wounded and love sharing my lessons learned with these elite athletes.” 

Being able to connect elite athletes with elite service members so that personal life learning can foster positive growth is one of the primary missions of the USSA Military Mentorship Program. 

“We are combining two of the best organizations in the world and allowing the synergies of excellence to foster positive growth,” says program creator Robi Powers, a former US Ski Team athlete and coach who is also a military veteran. “Initially we had planned to roll out this program  in full force  after the Olympics, but PenFed came in and made this pre-Olympic engagement possible.” 
Colonel's John Bates and Danny McKnight
with Olympian Todd Lodwick - USSA COE

For five-time Olympian Todd Lodwick of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the visit to the USSA Center of Excellence couldn’t have come at a better time. The world champion and Olympic silver medalist had crashed in France while ski jumping the previous week, sustaining injuries to his shoulder.  While qualified for his sixth Olympic Games, his  ability to compete is uncertain.  

“I’m pretty busted up, but I’m training hard and going through hours of rehab daily and  only time is going to tell whether it’s enough,” said Lodwick, who has traveled to Iraq and combat locations with Powers to share motivational messages with Armed Forces members since winning his Olympic silver medal in Vancouver.  “Today two amazing American heroes stopped by to give me a pat on the shoulder, which means more to me then I can explain right now.”   

With USSA athletes like Lindsey Vonn, Wint and possibly Lodwick sidelined from competing in Sochi, having a network of service members on call to assist athletes in facing adversity is just one aspect to this new program’s full mission. 

“We are going to bring wounded warriors to USSA Training Camps and connect USSA athletes to bases all over the world to ensure that these two elite teams share, grow and become stronger- together,” says Powers. 

Like the military, the US Ski Team, Snowboarding Team and Freeskiing Team communities are tight knit.  As word spread of the PenFed sponsorship and involvement, alumni athletes Phil and Steve Mahre stepped forward to lend a hand. 

“Phil and Steve Mahre are headed to Minot Air Force Base to visit with the United States Air Force, 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing Airmen right after the Olympics,” confirmed Mike Lane, American300’s Public Affairs Director who works full time as Steamboat Ski Resort’s Public Relations Director, “The Mahre brothers are legends in the ski community and personify excellence in sport and life, the Minot Tour is going to be amazing coming right on the heels of the 2014 Games.” 

USSA Military Mentorship Program underway at
USSA Center of Excellence - Park City, Utah
As the days of interaction between wounded warriors and athletes came to a close at the USSA Center of Excellence in Park City last week, Colonel Bates smiled as he imparted these closing remarks on a group of national team athletes on the second floor of the center’s sprawling complex, “No matter if you go to Sochi or not, always remember that you’re representing America and that is the true honor… so be bold… be an American in everything you do." 

About American300 Tours:  The American300 Tours produce educational resiliency programs designed to serve the Department of Defense.  The nonprofit also produces ONETEAM Envoys for the Department of State.  With a mission of increasing the resiliency of our Armed Forces Members, their Families and the Communities which they live and operate in around the world through peaceful relations. 

Media inquiries can be directed to Mike Lane - 

About U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA): The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) is the national governing body of Olympic skiing and snowboarding. It is the parent organization of the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing. Developed to facilitate participation in national and international competition, the Olympic sports organization provides structure for competitive skiing and snowboarding. From grassroots programs to governance of sport, management of rules, competitions and athletic rankings, the USSA oversees athletic pipelines for development in the sports. With a vision to make the USA the best in the world in Olympic skiing and snowboarding, the USSA provides leadership and direction for tens of thousands of young skiers and snowboarders who share an Olympic dream while maintaining a strong adherence to core values. The USSA, established in 1905, operates out of the national training and education facility, the Center of Excellence, in Park City, UT. For more information about USSA and its programs visit and

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